Lee County schools open enrollment with new proximity zoning plan

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The School District of Lee County has opened enrollment for the next school year, and it has a new proximity plan intended to help solve the district’s issues with its bus system.

The LCSD plan shrinks the school zones parents can choose from to send their children, hopefully cutting down on the commute to and from school for buses. If you have a child in kindergarten through 4th grade, the first step is to get online and create a Focus parent portal. There, you will be able to view the new proximity zoning maps.

New Lee County school districts. CREDIT: LEE COUNTY

If your child’s current school is in your new zone and you want them to continue to attend that school, you have nothing else to do. However, if your child’s current school is not within the new proximity zone on the map, you will have to log into your Focus parent portal and opt for your child to stay in their current school, keeping in mind that you will be responsible for finding your child a ride to school.

That’s the idea—fewer routes for bus drivers and less time for students to wait. Transportation will only be provided if your assigned school is more than two miles from your home. There has been a lot of frustration about Lee County’s school bus situation, and LCSD hopes this new proximity zoning will help.

WINK News spoke with Rob Spicker, a Lee County School District spokesperson, to get a better understanding of the rules and zones.

“The big reason that this is happening is that the system no longer works, it was developed with about 68,000 students in the school district, Lee County, today, we’re up to almost 100,000. You can’t transport 100,000 students to the school of their choice,” Spicker said.

In short, the student assignment is gone, and the “proximity plan” will replace it. This change will allow the school district to restructure how it gets kids to and from school and potentially solve the chronic bus driver shortage.

Old Lee County school districts. CREDIT: LEE COUNTY

“But through proximity, we’ll have the right amount of drivers to match to the number of routes we’re going to need,” Spicker said.

Last week, Lee County mom Dixie Dorter told WINK News her daughter’s high school bus was either late or didn’t come at all. This new proximity plan won’t impact her yet, but she is an example of how it may help down the road.

“They just haven’t been coming, and when I call the bus depot, there is no bus, and there’s no backup bus,” Dorter said. “And this has been going on… this is the second week. No school and the kids stand out here 30, 40 minutes. With no bus showing up, no way of knowing there’s no bus showing up until I called the bus depot.”

While this plan is only for elementary students right now, the new zoning will eventually become a factor for some middle and high school parents.

“She’s been there all these years; I want her to finish out there,” Dorter said. “I know that you try and pick and choose a school that you know a little better. So, I’m not sure how I feel on that one. The main thing is just getting them there safely.”

Spicker wanted to let everyone know you can do this process online if you’ve got your PIN and are ready to go. You do not need to show up in person. Also, you can enter your child in the lottery selection for their school of choice at any time until March 10, and your chances are still just as good as they would be if you did it on Feb. 13.

Elementary school open enrollment will be available online for the 2023-2024 school year starting Monday and runs through March 10.

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